At this time of year, I usually start to think in earnest about holiday shopping. It’s more complicated since we need to consider not only the relatives in the U.S., but living overseas. What gifts won’t break the budget, but are still tasteful and lightweight enough to be transported internationally?
Here’s a few ideas. If you can think of others, feel free to add to the list (or critique the choices already suggested!):
- Perfumes and fragrances. I wasn’t big into perfumes and fragrances before marriage, but it appears many people love them. You can watch for online perfume specials throughout the year and then pile discount codes and coupons on top of those to make them more reasonable. Caution: Make sure your relatives actually like the fragrance before you buy! Try getting something similar to their current fragrance (or asking the spouse who knows them best).
- Clothes. Maybe he was just being polite, but my father-in-law seemed honestly captivated by the cap we brought to him last Christmas when we visited. It had the logo of the university where we both graduated, so now we have college fans in another country! This year, my husband suggested we buy him pajamas. Other options for family members are shirts, ties, blouses, etc.
- Picture albums/videos. Wedding pics are a great idea! Not to sound too narcissistic, but we did present numerous family relations with DVDs of our wedding and reception to those who asked. If you marry near the holiday season, that’s a great follow-up present. Unfortunately for us, we had already given these DVDs before the holiday season rolled around, so we couldn’t use this one.
- CDs. This year I gave some of my relatives elegant CDs from an artist who specializes in playing for causes (like clean water around the world, lifting up those from poverty, etc.). Even if they don’t like the music, they can feel better knowing that 100% of the CD purchase price went to a good cause. 🙂
- Small, lightweight books (if they’re into reading). I got my grandparents two small devotional books that packed well and fit into a carry-on bag that one of our U.S. relatives took to them on a trip this year. Another tip: Try scheduling your gift drives around the time that someone in your family is planning to return to the country of choice. Then that “someone” can save you shipping costs, which can cost more than the gift!
- Occasionally, video game consoles and other high-tech items. I don’t recommend these often because they’re significantly more expensive than our usual gifts, but if a relative specifically requests them, they’re worth considering. Often consoles are cheaper in the U.S. than abroad, and sometimes the relative is willing to pay a little of the cost. Then you can provide it to them at the discounted rate! Caution: Make sure the country you’re taking the item to can support U.S. television and video standards (NTSC). See this Webopedia entry for more information.
What gifts have you sent to people outside the U.S.?